State of the World 2014: Governing for Sustainability


Citizens expect their governments to lead on sustainability. But from largely disappointing international conferences like Rio II to the U.S.?s failure to pass meaningful climate legislation, governments? progress has been lackluster. That?s not to say leadership is absent; it just often comes from the bottom up rather than the top down. Action?on climate, species loss, inequity, and other sustainability crises?is being driven by local, people?s, women?s, and grassroots movements around the world, often in ...
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State of the World 2014: Governing for Sustainability

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Citizens expect their governments to lead on sustainability. But from largely disappointing international conferences like Rio II to the U.S.’s failure to pass meaningful climate legislation, governments’ progress has been lackluster. That’s not to say leadership is absent; it just often comes from the bottom up rather than the top down. Action—on climate, species loss, inequity, and other sustainability crises—is being driven by local, people’s, women’s, and grassroots movements around the world, often in opposition to the agendas pursued by governments and big corporations.

These diverse efforts are the subject of the latest volume in the Worldwatch Institute’s highly regarded State of the World series. The 2014 edition, marking the Institute’s 40th anniversary, examines both barriers to responsible political and economic governance as well as gridlock-shattering new ideas. The authors analyze a variety of trends and proposals, including regional and local climate initiatives, the rise of benefit corporations and worker-owned firms, the need for energy democracy, the Internet’s impact on sustainability, and the importance of eco-literacy. A consistent thread throughout the book is that informed and engaged citizens are key to better governance.

The book is a clear-eyed yet ultimately optimistic assessment of citizens’ ability to govern for sustainability. By highlighting both obstacles and opportunities, State of the World 2014 shows how to effect change within and beyond the halls of government. This volume will be especially useful for policymakers, environmental nonprofits, students of environmental studies, sustainability, or economics—and citizens looking to jumpstart significant change around the world.

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Editorial Reviews

General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation - Sharan Burrow

"Achieving sustainable ways of living is inextricably linked to how we organize work in the future. State of the World 2014 makes an important contribution by illustrating how trade unions, far from being outdated, will be at the forefront of a just transition. It is a challenging compilation—coming at exactly the right time."
The Australian National University, Editor-in-Chief, Global Governance - Ramesh Thakur

"For thirty years, the State of the World report has helped to map the gathering and then accelerating storm of environmental, climate, and resource crises. Identifying itself firmly with the collective interest of humanity as a whole living in harmony with nature, the annual report has sought to balance authoritative reporting of the increasingly bleak health of the environment with sustainable pathways out of the accumulating crises. In a world of competing sources of authority and power, the pursuit of atomized individual and national self-interests will court planetary disaster. This year's State of the World report has its focus on governance: how, in a world without world government, we can and must make enforceable rules for using finite resources democratically, equitably and, above all, sustainably, with fallible governments and imperfect markets working together for the common good."
coordinator of Social Watch - Roberto Bissio

"State of the World 2014 can be read as a 'State of the Wealth' report. Never before has wealth commanded so much power or been so concentrated—even to the point of threatening civilized life. Wealth becomes unable to offer, not just a better future, but any future. Therein lies its weakness and the hope that the major governance shift that sustainability requires can be brought about."
founder, - Bill McKibben

"The scientists have told us what we need to know about climate change. Now, as this fascinating volume makes clear, it's time for the political scientists to step up—and more importantly all of us in our role as citizens, making sure that we replace our ruinous energy oligarchy with a vibrant, sustainable and just democracy."
former U.S. Senator, the first Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs - Timothy E. Wirth

"In my four decades in government and public life, I have seen first-hand most of the flaws in national and international governance that this trenchant book critiques. Its suggestions for improving the ways we manage our relations with each other and with our planetary home are provocative yet clear-headed, and—if only we implemented them—would likely to put us on the path to true sustainability."
Domestic Fuel

"This year's report, published by Worldwatch Institute, marks the organization's 40th anniversary. The study looks at what governing for sustainability really means. Authors highlight the responsibility of political and economic actors to achieve sustainability measures. They also noted that to be effective, governance systems must be inclusive and participatory, allowing members to have a voice in the decision making process."
rector of the United Nations University - David M. Malone

"This volume offers a variety of informed and often passionate voices on the interface of environmental degradation and risk with conceptions and models of governance that, if we can summon the will, would promote sustainable management of the global commons. A clear, lively, thought-provoking book which serves well as a reasoned call to action."
Maryland State Senate Majority Whip and Professor of Constitutional Law, American University - Senator Jamie Raskin

"This book is a manifesto of practical hope published in the shadow of accelerating environmental catastrophe. It tells us that we do not have to sit on our hands and close our eyes as we wait for the deluge. Instead, we can govern and lead with some courage in the interests of all humanity."
Agricultures Network

"Although optimistic, [State of the World 2014] is framed by a sentiment of crisis, with humanity at an unprecedented crossroads requiring a sharp departure from politics and business as usual... examin[ing] both obstacles to, and opportunities for, responsible political and economic governance."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781610915410
  • Publisher: Island Press
  • Publication date: 4/29/2014
  • Series: State of the World Series
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 522,662
  • Product dimensions: 6.90 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Founded in 1974 by farmer and economist Lester Brown, Worldwatch was the first independent research institute devoted to the analysis of global environmental concerns. Worldwatch quickly became recognized by opinion leaders around the world for its accessible, fact-based analysis of critical global issues. Now under the leadership of population expert and author Robert Engelman, Worldwatch develops innovative solutions to intractable problems, emphasizing a blend of government leadership, private sector enterprise, and citizen action that can make a sustainable future a reality.
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Table of Contents

Foreword \ David W. Orr
PART I. Introduction
Chapter 1. Failing Governance, Unsustainable Planet \ Michael Renner and Tom Prugh
Chapter 2. Understanding Governance \ D. Conor Seyle and Matthew Wilburn King
PART II. Political Governance
Chapter 3. Governance, Sustainability, and Evolution  \ John Gowdy
Chapter 4. Ecoliteracy: Knowledge Is Not Enough \ Monty Hempel
Chapter 5. Digitization and Sustainability \ Richard Worthington
Chapter 6. Living in the Anthropocene: Business as Usual, or Compassionate Retreat? \ Peter G. Brown and Jeremy J. Schmidt
Chapter 7. Governing People as Members of the Earth Community \ Cormac Cullinan
Chapter 8. Listening to the Voices of Young and Future Generations \ Antoine Ebel and Tatiana Rinke
Chapter 9. Advancing Ecological Stewardship Via the Commons and Human Rights \ David Bollier and Burns Weston
Chapter 10. Looking Backward (Not Forward) to Environmental Justice \ Aaron Sachs
Chapter 11. The Too Polite Revolution: Understanding the Failure to Pass U.S. Climate  Legislation \ Petra Bartosiewicz and Marissa Miley
Chapter 12. China's Environmental Governance Challenge \ Sam Geall and Isabel Hilton
Chapter 13. Assessing the Outcomes of Rio+20 \ Maria Ivanova
Chapter 14. How Local Governments Have Become a Factor in Global Sustainability \ Monika Zimmerman
PART III. Economic Governance
Chapter 15. Scrutinizing the Corporate Role in the Post-2015 Development Agenda \ Lou Pingeot
Chapter 16. Making Finance Serve the Real Economy \ Thomas Palley
Chapter 17. Climate Governance and the Resource Curse \ Evan Musolino and Katie Auth
Chapter 18. The Political-Economic Foundations of a Sustainable System \ Gar Alperovitz
Chapter 19. The Rise of Triple-Bottom-Line Businesses \ Colleen Cordes
Chapter 20. Working Toward Energy Democracy \ Sean Sweeney
Chapter 21. Take the Wheel and Steer! Trade Unions and the Just Transition \ Nina Netzer and Judith Gouverneur
PART IV. Conclusion
Chapter 22. A Call to Engagement \ Tom Prugh and Michael Renner
5-1  Networked Governance to the Rescue? \ Matthew Wilburn King
7-1  Extracts from the Constitution of Ecuador \ Cormac Cullinan
8-1  Representing Future Interests Within the United Nations \ Mirna Ines Fernández
8-2  Sovereign Wealth Funds: The Financial Arm of Intergenerational Governance? \ Elizabeth Buchan
9-1  Litigating for the Public Trust \ Alec Loorz
13-1  A Policy Mechanism for Ensuring Sustainable Development: National Resource Sufficiency Evaluation \ Ed Barry
14-1  Local Agenda 21: A Powerful Movement with Wide-ranging Impacts \ Monika Zimmerman
14-2  Local Government Involvement in the UN Biodiversity Convention \ Monika Zimmerman
14-3  Cities in the UN's Post-2015 Development Agenda
17-1  The Norwegian Oil Fund \ Evan Musolino and Katie Auth
18-1  Ten Years On: Argentina's "Recuperated" Worker-Owned Factories \  Leccese
19-1  Public Benefit Corporations in Delaware \ Colleen Cordes
21-1  The Just Transition Framework \ Nina Netzer and Judith Gouverneur
22-1  Women, Governance, and Sustainability \ Robert Engelman and Janice Pratt
22-2  Building a Culture of Engagement \ Tom Prugh
1-1 Carbon Emissions by Type of Entity, 1751-2010
1-2 Worldwide Protests by Selected Grievance or Demand, 2006-2013
4-1  Factors Contributing to Eco-Complacency and Disbelief
4-2  The Governance Tool Kit
5-1  Growth in U.S. Energy Usage, 1950-2010
5-2  U.S. Total Investment versus ICT Investment, 1992-2012
13-1  UN Millennium Development Goals: Goals and Targets
16-1  Growth of the U.S. Financial Sector, Selected Years, 1973-2007
16-2  Growth of U.S. Household Debt, Selected Years, 1973-2007
19-1  U.S. Movement for Benefit Corporation Laws
19-2  Global Reach of Certified B Corporations
20-1  Global Capacity or Production of Selected Renewable Energy Technologies, 2000 and 2012
20-2  Revenues and Profits of the World's 50 Largest Corporations, by Industry, 2012
21-1  Green Economy Approaches: An Overview
21-2  Selected Proponents of the Green Economy
2-1  Google Scholar Hits for "Governance" and "Government," 1950–2010
14-1  Local Climate Actions Paralleling Global Actions, 1990–2013
15-1  United Nations Funding Sources, 2012
16-1  The Virtuous Circle Keynsian Growth Model, 1945-75
16-2  Productivity and Real Average Hourly Wage and Compensation of U.S. Non-supervisory Workers, 1948-2011
16-3  The Neoliberal ("Market Fundamentalist") Policy Box
16-4  Main Conduits of Financialization
16-5  Putting Finance Back in the Box
17-1  Freedom of the Press in Countries Most Dependent on Oil and Gas Earnings, 2011
22-1  Women in Parliaments, 1997-2013
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